Date
24 May 2017
Johnnie To says a film about the Umbrella Movement could be part of an election trilogy but he fears the consequences if it's made now. Photos: HKEJ, Henry Chan@Flickr
Johnnie To says a film about the Umbrella Movement could be part of an election trilogy but he fears the consequences if it's made now. Photos: HKEJ, Henry [email protected]

China influence on HK cinema bittersweet for top filmmaker

Hong Kong cinema is less free amid China’s growing influence but it needs the mainland market to survive, according to a top filmmaker.

Johnnie To said local producers are free to exercise their artistic license but only to a certain extent.

He lamented the erosion of freedom of speech, saying a lot of the news these days is “completely whatever they want to tell you”.

A film about last year’s Umbrella Movement is part of his plans but it might bring consequences for his production company if he does it now, he told the independent cultural magazine The Skinny.

To said a movie about the 79-day street protests could be the last installment of an election trilogy.

Although China’s growing sway in Hong Kong cinema is a problem, it is also part of the reason the mainland is a key market for Hong Kong films, he said.

Without it, filmmakers will be limited to small productions. 

Some Chinese investors are willing to spend HK$100 million (US$12.9 million) to make one film but it is difficult for a producer to raise HK$10 million in Hong Kong, he said.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong movies are changing content-wise thanks to the mainland market.

“In the past, a lot of the actors from mainland China played mostly anti-hero roles,” he said.

“Now it’s the other way around. A lot of Hong Kong actors are the villains such as Louis Koo in the Drug War.”

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